Best Japanese Proverbs for Language Learners

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Japanese people are known for their wisdom. The Japanese know everything about health and wellness and they share this wisdom with the world in many forms. One such medium by which Japanese wisdom can be spread are Japanese proverbs. In this article, we will talk about some famous Japanese proverbs, the different types of Japanese proverbs, the importance of Japanese proverbs and we will discuss all these Japanese quotes with their English translations. But before we explore Japanese proverbs in detail, let us understand what proverbs are. 

What are Proverbs?

Proverbs are explanations that mostly offer life advice or motivation to keep going. In any language, the usage of proverbs is very common. The locals use proverbs that are specific to their city and culture in everyday conversations without even realizing it. Sometimes, the use of proverbs differs when you move from one city to another in a country. Proverbs tell us a lot about different cultures and the life of the people belonging to that culture. 

In this article, we will learn all about Japanese proverbs about life and love, and also kanji japanese proverbs. But before we get into all that, let us understand why Japanese proverbs are important if you want to learn how to speak the language or even in a general sense. 

Why are Japanese Proverbs and Quotes Important? 

First, let us talk about why it is important to learn Japanese proverbs. There are a few reasons why one must learn proverbs when learning a new language:

  1. Proverbs help us learn a lot about the culture of a place. They give us an insight into the philosophies of the people of a place and their thought process. 
  2. Proverbs are used by native people in everyday communication, without a second thought, because they are familiar and comfortable with the language. When you use proverbs while communicating in any language, it shows your proficiency, fluency and comfort to speak in that language. 
  3. When you use proverbs while interacting with the locals, it will make them believe that you are comfortable with and aware about their language and culture and so, they will be more accepting and open towards you. 
  4. The last and most important reason is that proverbs are an interesting and fun way of learning a new language. When we learn proverbs, we learn the words of a language that are way beyond the traditional rules and formal usage.

Apart from all of these reasons to learn proverbs, they also come in handy when learning a new language. Using Japanese proverbs will be a fun way of practicing conversational Japanese. Proverbs are the common expressions or phrases used by the people living in a place as these are words that only native speakers will be familiar with. These are also a great way to find out more about the culture of Japan or Japanese speaking communities. Using proverbs in your communication will make you seem like one of the locals.

Best Japanese Proverbs for Language Learners

Japanese proverbs are filled with ancient wisdom. These proverbs are based on observations of people and things around us. Japanese proverbs are here to remind us of all the ancient golden words that we have forgotten as the world has progressed into the technology era. Japanese proverbs about love and life are based on simplicity and truth. Each thought is a reflection of special values that are truly unique and inspire the human mind to do better. These Japanese proverbs can be straight-forward sayings or complicated philosophies.

Japanese proverbs are mainly of three types: 

  • Linarawashi: These are short sayings that provide little bits of wisdom.
  • Yojijukugo: The hardest ones to understand, especially for new learners, these proverbs are four-character idioms. These proverbs are written using only four kanji characters.
  • Kan’yō-ku: These are longer phrases that impart wisdom and learnings. 

Japanese sayings and quotes are full of wisdom and wellness. These sayings inspire you to live your best and healthiest life. Here are some best Japanese proverbs with English translations that will give you a little more insight into life, health and wellness. 

Japanese Proverbs About Life

  1. 自業自得 — jigoujitoku 

The literal translation of this proverb is ‘what goes around, comes around’. Depending on how it is used, this phrase can mean a few different things, but it is mostly used in the positive sense to say that hard work pays off. 

  1. 花より団子 — hana yori dango

This proverb translates in English to ‘Dumplings over flowers’, which means that you prefer substance over superficiality. It can also be used to refer to someone who is more practical since they prefer dumplings over flowers as dumplings have a pragmatic use.

  1. 井の中の蛙大海を知らず — i no naka no kawazu taikai wo shirazu

This proverb talks about someone who has a very limited view of the world. They only look at things from their perspective and judge others very quickly. It inspires them to open up and see the word from different perspectives.

  1. 口は災いの元  — kuchi wa wazawai no moto

This proverb when translated into English reads ‘The mouth is the source of all disasters’, which means that our words cause us the most trouble and so, we must always think before we speak. 

  1. 水に流す — mizu ni nagasu

This proverb is used when you want to say that you are letting go of the issue and moving on, like it is water under the bridge. This is the mantra to great mental health.

  1. 案ずるより産むが易し — anzuru yori umu ga yasushi

This one’s for all the people who constantly worry about everything, to help them realize that worrying is worthless. Thinking about the future can give a lot of us anxiety, but the Japanese believe that we must focus on doing more than thinking. The english translation of this one is ‘It is easier to give birth than to think about it.’

  1. 知らぬが仏 — shiranu ga hotoke

This one is truly my favorite because I practice it all day every day. In English, it loosely translates to ‘ignorance is bliss’.

Japanese Proverbs About Love

  1. 惚れた病に薬なし — horeta yamai ni kusuri nashi

This one accurately describes the condition of everyone who is hopelessly in love. It translates to ‘there is no cure for the disease called love’. Every word of this proverb is true, if you have ever been in love, you would know.

  1. 見ぬが花 — minu ga hana

This proverb translates in English to ‘Reality never lives up to one’s imagination’. This one is true for the lovers who have loved from a distance. Sometimes, love disappoints them because their imagination of the relationship was so much better than the reality of it. 

  1. 恋とせきとは隠されぬ。— koi to seki to wa kakusarenu

Another proverb on similar lines as the first one, this one compares love to cough because both cannot be suppressed or hidden. It is very evident when someone is in love.

  1. 磯 の アワビ — iso no awabi

This proverb is for the ones who have experienced one-sided love or unrequited love. This Japanese proverb when translated in English, reads ‘An abalone on the shore’, which is a very rare sight and not easily found. 

  1. 異体同心 — itai doushin

This one is the literal definition of love as described by many, ‘Two bodies, one soul or the same heart’. This proverb is used to talk about two people who are getting married or are soulmates. 

Japanese words and proverbs are always on-trend.

This is true! A lot of people are always looking up Japanese words and phrases for a lot of reasons. Whether they are looking for a new tattoo or wanting to name their new furry baby, Japanese quotes and words are always trending. What are you waiting for? Go through the Japanese quotes and proverbs in this article and get some kanji (Japanese letters) tattooed on yourself today. 

I hope the Japanese proverbs and the Japanese motivational quotes that you read in this article have helped you improve your Japanese speaking skills and your knowledge of the language. I hope it has also helped you gain an in-depth understanding of the nuanced parts of the language. And most importantly, I hope you have received some wisdom and inspiration from these ancient Japanese sayings.